Three's A'loud

Teacher's pet

This month we celebrate International Teacher’s day. Whilst researching this article, I was amused and delighted to find that most professions get an “international day” dedicated especially to them. Did you know that the 30th March was international doctor’s day? There are quite a few days celebrating engineers and there is even an international day for the plumber on the 11th March. And finally, one of my personal favourites, the 14th of April this year was be-kind-to-a-lawyer day! How nice.

Sadly though, no matter how long I google, I could not find an international day for hoteliers. There is an international day for the banana, and international country music day and an international stepfamily day, but nothing for the hospitality industry. I guess we never have off long enough to celebrate.

Back to the teachers now. To be honest I totally support a day celebrating our teachers. Who does not have a story to share about an amazing teacher that opened their eyes to new possibilities in science, math or, most significantly, in ourselves?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few amazing teachers in my life. I loved my grade 1 teacher to bits and she allowed me to read piles of books in a huge castle made from soda cans in the back of the class. My grade 2 teacher was amazing and made me promise I will someday dedicate my first book to her (I still have to fulfil that promise) and so the list continues. The most recent teacher who had a huge impact on my life was my boss in 2008. You don’t have to be a teacher to teach and inspire!

I asked a few friends to tell me more about the teachers that helped them achieve greatness.

Henda Boshoff; mother, photographer and one of the most joyous people in the world: “Mrs Stander was my Grade 11 maths teacher. Mathematics was not my favourite subject, having had a string of bad teachers that resulted in bad marks the years prior to meeting Mrs Stander. Within the first month in her class my marks increased by 30%. Her love for the subject, her extreme patience and the fact that she believed in me made all the difference. She knew the names of all her students; she got to know each student's strength and had the ability to make you feel so special. Thank you, Mrs Stander.“

Jenny De Waal*; career-woman, inspiration and amazing parent: “My Pharmacology Professor at University taught me all about drugs (the prescription kind of course), but I'll always be thankful for the life-long impact he made as a career/life mentor. His philosophy was (is?) to know your stuff, and to apply your knowledge with a good scoop of common sense. This was especially handy when a lab experiment went horribly wrong. Little did I know he was also prepping me to cope in the big bad corporate world. It became part of me to always go the extra mile to know my stuff (which helped during interviews and to gain respect from colleagues). It rubbed off on me to remain calm in tough situations because I knew a dose of common sense combined with knowledge could solve any problem. He gave me the kind of confidence to fake it until I made it. Oh, he also kind of played a small role in my decision to quit smoking 8 years ago.”

Finally, as much as a good teacher can inspire and ignite our passion, a bad teacher’s influence can cause years’ worth of damage.

Cornel Papenfus. Marketing exec, runner and lover of life: “I had a maths teacher in primary school whose actions lead me to believe that I couldn’t do maths and that I would not be a success in life. At the time I was rebellious and angry at him and did even less to impress. Although he did a lot of damage and ruined my self-confidence at that stage, I am grateful towards him now. In the long run his actions drove me to prove him wrong and make a success of my life and career – without being a mathematical genius. I was 12 years old, growing and learning and he should have been kinder and more intuitive. He should have been positive and he should have tried to help me rather than break me. The short and the long of this message is that teachers have power and influence and it should be used very wisely. I will never forget him and how he was the first person to make me feel worthless.”

To all the amazing teachers out there – by profession or otherwise - keep on doing what you’re doing. You are amazing and change lives everyday.

Now you have to kindly excuse me, I have to go and remind my husband that tomorrow is International Wife Appreciation day.

This article was first published on Master of Quills

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